Thursday, 13 December 2018

Diary of a rowing coach

Sunday, April 27: London Rowing Club came down for some sparring over 1,000m in coxless fours. Luke, Graham,

Sunday, April 27: London Rowing Club came down for some sparring over 1,000m in coxless fours. Luke, Graham, Sam and Jake clocked 2.49, Lewis, Joe, Nagi and Conor 2.52 and Sam E, Jason, Mark, Nathan 2.57. London’s fastest crew only managed 3.01 which, standing on the bank with their Australian coach Nick, in his first year there, was slightly awkward. Gonzo told a story about mistakenly cycling over a yapping dog that bit him on the leg in Putney, killing it instantly. Despite the poor form, we all laughed hard.

Monday, April 28: 2k ergo test. Six above the “HRR win line”, shows the training programme is working.

Tuesday, April 29: Bright spring morning, the magnolia half white petals, half bright green buds. Just back from an early outing with Luke, Sam, Jake and Graham. Being a coach at this time of year is energising. With no other boats on the river, you feel like you are gaining an advantage over the opposition still lazing in bed. Wallingford regatta on Sunday. I think we can do well with three of the coxless fours.

Thursday, May 1: Spoke to Ben about availability for Ghent. Says he won’t row on bowside as he prefers strokeside, even though he’s been rowing on bowside! Coaching at club level is 90 per cent about managing people and 10 per cent coaching technique.

Sunday, May 4: Luke’s four won convincingly at Wallingford. The other two finished 5th and 6th in the final, a bit disappointing.

Monday, May 5: Told Sam E and Ringer they were not going to Ghent, slightly sullen responses. Also leaving behind an eight and two fours. Some were disappointed not to be included so I explained it was a high-level regatta and a long way to go for an early bath.

Friday, May 9: Drove the trailer to Ghent. Ed and Ben on board, both talked non-stop for five hours. Once the lads had left the lake Nicola and I got tipsy with a group of South Africans that included Francois Pienaar and his wife. Francois is a true legend when one considers his achievements. The thing that struck me most about him was his extraordinarily powerful buttocks, like a rhino. He and his wife chain-smoked cigars.

Saturday, May 10: Won 4+ easily. Was great to beat Thames who I thought would be faster. The two coxless fours were a disappointment again though. Next year I’m not bringing crews that don’t make the grade.

Sunday, May 11: Yesterday’s winning crew finished half a length behind Leander’s top four, full of class international athletes. Arguably the best result in club’s history.

Wednesday, May 21: Was elected director of rowing in vote for which I needed 75 per cent approval. Gather it was 66-6 but wasn’t allowed to attend for fear of putting people off their voting.

Friday, May 30: Had email from Robert Harneis who rowed for UTRC in 1965. Said he had seen a video I put on YouTube: “You cannot imagine what a jolt it was to see a film I never knew existed, close-up of our crew. I just sat there dumbstruck and watched it in a loop for half an hour...” How powerful our connections are to the past.

Sunday, June 1: A great day, beat Thames in the 8+, finished close behind Leander. Was leaning towards the fours but now not so sure.

Sunday, June 14: The two fours had a humdinger this morning, the second four gave the first four a bloody nose — four smiling bunnies and four long faces. I’ve seen enough to think both have a decent chance. I’ll put the entry in first thing tomorrow.

Saturday, June 20: The 4- won a pot at last, doing 6.15 in the process. They seem to be improving all the time. The 4+ were awesome, doing 3.02 to half way. They were narrowly beaten by Newcastle University but I can’t see a UK club getting anywhere near them. Bring it on.

Friday, June 26: Just realised in horror that Lewis can’t steer, even though he won the junior world champs doing so. We did three two- minute pieces along the booms and he hit the booms every time. I’ve swapped the steering to Mike, who seems strangely calm about it.

Thursday, July 2: On the way home I bump into Steve and Ann [Redgrave]. Steve is really looking forward to taking over the chairman’s role and has some fresh ideas. I wonder what the old boys on the bottom deck of the floater will make of it.

Saturday, July 4: We beat Thames in the 4- and Sydney in the 4+.

Sunday, July 5: Woke early, felt jealous of the boys for the huge opportunity in front of them but proud too. After we won the 4+, I had 10 minutes with the boys before I had to head back to the launch for the 4-. Steve said congratulations and I started saying thanks but misted up and couldn’t speak. He laughed. Coming off the launch after winning the 4-, Dan Topoloski made a point of saying how he knew a man who would be very proud of me, which he knew meant a great deal. Such a nice thing to hear. After prize-giving Nicola and I had a burger with the boys and their girlfriends in the Little Angel. Home by 9pm.

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death

POLL: Have your say